Ravidas temple demolition: Shutdown in SBS Nagar, protesters block highway
A near complete shutdown was observed on Monday in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar on a call given by the Ravidasia community in protest against the demolition of a 500-year-old Ravidas temple at Tughlakabad in New Delhi two days ago on the Supreme Court’s orders.
Shops and other commercial outlets across the city remained closed through the day in the wake of the protest, with only a few opening by the evening. Also, members of the community staged a dharna and blocked the Jalandhar-Chandigarh highway for more than 5 hours. Workers of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) also joined the protest. Police diverted the traffic from the outskirts of the city. Leaders of the Gurdwara Ravidas Committee and other community organisations, which gave the shutdown call, expressed anger against the central government terming the temple demolition as an attack on the minorities.
BSP state president Jasvir Singh Garhi said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre has been selective over the implementation of the Supreme Court’s orders. He also accused the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi for failing to protect the rights of the Dalits.
He said the BSP will continue to protest till the temple is restored. Later, the party leaders held a meeting with Sant Samaj activists in Phagwara on the Punjab bandh call for Tuesday.
Protest in Balachaur too
At Balachaur town of the district, members of Bhim Army, an outfit of the Ravidasia community, staged a protest for three hours. The protesters and shopkeepers entered into arguments over shutting down of shops. They sat on a dharna at Balachaur-Garhshankar Chowk at 11am but some of the protesters went to the markets and started asking the traders to close their shops. Later, Balachaur deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Jatinderjit Singh intervened and pacified the protesters. He said the matter was resolved as the protesters had not informed the administration regarding the shutdown call.
The shopkeepers said they did not have prior information about closing their shops and they were being asked to do so when customers were there.
Bhim Army activist Kulwinder Mand alleged that central government didn’t follow the case properly and demolished the temple without exploring legal remedy. SBS Nagar senior superintendent of police (SSP) Alka Meena said the law and order situation was normal in the district despite protests.
All government, private schools, colleges and other educational institutions in Jalandhar and Kapurthala districts will remain closed on Tuesday.